HomeEntertainmentHalle Bailey's hair extensions and locs for 'The Little Mermaid' cost over...

Halle Bailey’s hair extensions and locs for ‘The Little Mermaid’ cost over $150,000

If anyone knows how to get the right shade of red for black hair, it’s Camille Friend. The Oscar-nominated head of the hair department, whose credits include “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” experimented with adding color to Lupita Nyong’o’s hair, and now she’s doing it again. This time it was for Halle Bailey in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid.” But that wasn’t cheap.

Her challenge was to take Disney’s most famous redhead, Princess Ariel, and create a look for Bailey that would work. In addition, maintaining Bailey’s natural hair was an important requirement she had to meet.

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Bailey, who wears long locos, wanted to stay true to her black heritage. And keeping them wigless would herald an important moment for representation and Bailey’s identity, as the movie presents Disney’s first Black Ariel (and first Black Princess in a live-action movie).

Speak with Variety, Friend says she started with Bailey’s roots. ‘I went to see Halle’s family. Her mother is spiritual and they are a nice family.” She adds, “I started to understand who she was and why it was important to keep the natural hair element.”

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Both Disney and director Rob Marshall had no problem with it.

Once Friend got approval and understood this, she began her creation process. “I look at the face shape, skin tone and eye color. And what color her costume will be.

Friend was determined not to cut any of Bailey’s natural hair or use a wig. “I knew a wig just wasn’t going to work,” she says.

Friend’s dilemma was creating the iconic redhead princess look without cutting Bailey’s locs. The wrapping process took 12 to 14 hours. She says Bailey was a “trooper,” and Friend brought the trial in a reasonable amount of time. She says, “Halle’s locs are up to her waist, over 24 inches. And putting her in a wig would look crazy.

She returned to playing with the red. “If we take her and wrap it around her locks, we don’t have to cut or color them. We can change her color without changing her internal hair structure. Her texture and her hair are hers,” Friend says of her thought process.

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The 30-inch-long hair was custom colored and fused with keratin tips. “It’s three shades of red,” says Friend, who found the hair at Extensions Plus in Chatsworth. “I’m not guessing, but we probably spent at least $150,000 because we had to redo it and take it out. You couldn’t use it and we’d have to start over. It was a process.”

Once she realized that, she had to deal with the water element. “Locs don’t float,” says Friend. And the hair needed to “dance” when Ariel was underwater. Her solution? Add loose pieces of hair.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID, directed by Rob Marshall.  Photo by Giles Keyte.  © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc.  All rights reserved.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”

When Ariel loses her voice and transitions into a human, Friend switched her hair a bit to show Ariel’s vulnerability. “She doesn’t know what it’s like to be human.”

The hair strands were straighter with a slight beach wave. Friend says she used an oval shaped GHD iron. “I still wanted it to feel like an ocean wave.”

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As for that hair flip Ariel does when she gets out of the water, Friend wasn’t on set for that — COVID and scheduling conflicts prevented her from finishing the movie. “Tiffany Williams jumped in and took the movie the rest of the way… Here’s what I know, Halle turned it around and it was helped with CGI.”

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